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Self-publishing

re: Can Self-Publishing Trigger a Book Deal?

in Publishing Biz/Self-publishing/Submissions by

Dear Editor…

How likely is it these days for someone to self-publish a novel, only for it to be picked up soon after and re-published by a big publishing house?

Thanks,
R.

Dear R….

If your reason for self-publishing is to catch an editor’s eye, you’re betting on a long shot. The self-pubbed books that cross editors’ radars do so because of notably high sales numbers—which those authors earned by promoting the heck out of the books. They didn’t pub then wait for offers to roll in. Those cases make news because they’re rare. More likely: You’ll self-pub your book but continue to submit it to publishers. If you can report you’ve sold 30,000 or 40,000 on your own, then the self-pubbing will help make the deal. The editor will note the exceptional performance, figure you’re a good self-promotion bet, and see an eager audience for this and future books. If you don’t sell in high numbers, the self-pubbing becomes irrelevant to your submission and editors will judge the book as they would any unpubbed manuscript. They’ll sign it because they like it and believe their resources will yield preferred sales. A career strategy that banks on triggering traditional publication through self-publication is shaky.

Happy writing!
The Editor

re: Did Poor Self-Pub Sales Sink My Career?

in Publishing Biz/Self-publishing/Submissions by

Dear Editor…

My agent didn’t have luck finding a home for my teen novels, so I decided to self-publish…but I now wonder if I should have waited longer. I wonder if I acted impulsively and made a mistake. I also broke with my agent (not because she couldn’t sell the work but for other reasons). To be honest, I feel as if I’m a boat drifting at sea as far as my writing career goes, which is sad to say at my age. A friend is encouraging me to try other agents/editors, but I’m not sure if I should contact them since the first book of my series and another stand-alone novel are already self-published and far from doing stellar. So…I don’t see the point in contacting them. Or do you think I still should?

Sincerely,
Confused

Dear Confused…

These days, self-publishing first isn’t the interest-sinker it used to be with editors. If a self-published books does really well (say, selling 30,000-40,000+ copies) then it can impress editors and spark interest. Huzzah for that, of course. But if it hasn’t sold well (which is, honestly, more often the case with self-published fiction than not) but an editor likes the book and thinks she has a bead on its market, the editor will acquire your book and just have you remove the self-published edition from the market. So no, self-publishing with less than stellar results wasn’t shooting yourself in the foot. Your friend is right: Submit.

Happy writing!
The Editor

re: How Will a Traditional Publisher “Sell” My Book?

in Publishing Biz/Self-publishing by

Dear Editor…

I am interested to know how traditional publishers “sell” authors books? With the options of self-publishing these days, I like to weigh the pros and cons of both worlds. Can you answer this question?

Thank you,
Elaine

Dear Elaine…

To sell books, traditional publishers use sales reps to engage national distribution channels like stores and organizations; established review and award networks; dedicated marketing staff experienced in specific markets; and strategic marketing budgets. Each pub season, some “lead” titles spearhead a house’s campaign, but ideally every book has its own marketing plan that includes submission to general and customized review outlets and awards, plus development of book-specific opportunities. The house may pursue cover blurbs from famous people to tap their fanbases, and in the case of picture books can pair your text with a well known illustrator to increase market recognition and thus sales. They pay to bring some authors to regional book events; full tours are reserved for high profile cases. Sales reps walk buyers through the catalog, offering advanced books, promo items and displays, and even financial incentives to help stores market the books they choose to their customers. How much trickles down to non-“lead” books? Each house and book differs but the adage remains true: the more ANY author can do for her books, the better.

Happy writing!
The Editor

re: What Is “New Adult Fiction”?

in New Adult Fiction/Publishing Biz/Self-publishing by

Dear Editor…

The “New Adult Fiction” category has recently entered the publishers lexicon. Please enlighten us by defining.

Thanks,
Peter

Dear Peter…

New Adult fiction explores the hearts and minds of 18- to 25-year-olds as they learn to live self-responsible lives. Its readers are believed to be those 18- to 25-year-olds, plus the 30- to 44-year-old crossover readers who love Young Adult fiction. The dominant genres of this category, which fits the gap between YA and fiction for adults, are contemporary romance and paranormal. But similar to YA’s expansion beyond stories of love and angst in high school, readers are calling for expanded NA fare such as thrillers, mysteries, or any adventure that can befall someone after graduation from high school or an adult-regulated life but before settling into marriage, career, and family. And authors are writing it. NA imprints include Entangled Embrace and Bloomsbury Spark, but NA does appear in YA and adult fiction imprints or is self-published. I’ll cover NA themes and sensibilities here in August, when I do a week of NA-centric posts and free edit giveaways to celebrate my new book Writing New Adult Fiction, which has insights from NA bestsellers and a foreword by Sylvia Day.

Happy writing!
The Editor

re: When the Third Book in a Series Gets Rejected by Your Publisher

in Promotion/Publishing Biz/Self-publishing by

Dear Editor…

A few years ago I had two MG books published by a mid-sized Canadian publisher. Both books were sold separately (unagented) and are basically stand alone books in a series. Without any commitment from the publisher I went ahead and wrote a third (and final) book in the “series”. My publisher rejected it. Is there any hope for this manuscript? Should I put it in the drawer? Or is there any chance that I could find another publisher?

Many thanks…
Y.

Dear Y.…

Typically, each book in a trilogy or series sells fewer copies than the one preceding it. A publisher choosing not to continue the series is almost certainly making a sales decision. In a way, that works in your favor because then they may be willing to revert the rights for the first two books back to you, freeing you up to shop the full set to other publishers. (Those others won’t buy the third book when the first two are on someone else’s list.) Request the reversion so you can try this. If you get no bites because publishers are skittish about the books’ sales record, consider self-publishing. You’ve done all the writing work, and the first two stories are surely strong, they just didn’t sell. It happens. Hire a freelance editor for the final book to make sure it’s as strong as the other edited books, perhaps repackage the series with new, professionally designed covers, and then, when you promote, make a big deal about this being the complete series.

Happy writing!
The Editor

re: Self-Publishing Tween and Teen Fiction

in Self-publishing by

Dear Editor…

Kids are the fastest growing group of ebook consumers. Do you think this is affecting how emergent writers for teens and tweens need to present their work to traditional publishers who may or may not be embracing the digital format, and what are your thoughts about skipping the traditional publisher altogether and using an independent ebook publisher to create a digital novel to sell directly to kids?

Sincerely,
Roxyanne

Dear Roxyanne…

Reality check: You won’t sell your ebook directly to kids. They may be your readers, and they may read more ebooks every year, but they aren’t your direct customers. COPPA prevents you from engaging kids online, and since your primary promo tool will be social media, you’re selling to parents and adult readers of MG/YA. Reality check #2: Easy uploading doesn’t mean easy sales. Promoting an ebook is more than “Buy my book!” tweets. I’ve interviewed bestselling self-published authors—all engage their audience extensively through social media, reviewers, and bloggers, forming relationships that lead to sales. If you can’t commit to that, you’re just making your efiles available to family and friends and I don’t see that as a comparable alternative to traditional publishing. Like publishers, self-pubbers should aim to sell past break-even and grow a fanbase that returns for more. Reality check #3: Self-publication only impresses publishers if sales reach tens of thousands—and not at $.99 or free.

The Editor

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